14 Surprising DC Heroes Who Became Terrifying Villains

The DC Universe is home to some of the greatest heroes in comic books. Heroes like Batman, Superman, and the entirety of the Justice League have kept the multiverse safe from all manner of threats. However, many heroes, no matter how good they are, have found themselves venturing over to the dark side and become full-fledged villains.


It always hurts seeing a noble hero fall from grace and become a rogue. Even though many instances were temporary and some were contained to alternate universes, it doesn’t make the betrayal hurt any less. Read on to discover 14 of the most shocking turns to villainy for DC’s heroes.

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14 Shazam

King Shazam DC

Billy Batson was selected to be the Champion of Shazam due to his worthy nature. But even the wisdom of Solomon wasn’t enough to keep his mind on straight when he was infected by the Batman Who Laughs. The sinister Dark Knight poisoned Billy with Joker Toxin, turning him into King Shazam, a twisted and evil version of his ultimate form. Thankfully, he returned to normal after Lex Luthor severed his connection to the Dark Multiverse.

13 Alfred

Outsider Batman DC

Batman’s loyal butler Alfred Pennyworth might be dead now, but it’s not the first time he’s had a brush with death. The faithful servant died in Detective Comics #328, but shortly after, a new criminal known as the Outsider appeared in Gotham, targeting the Dynamic Duo. It was later revealed that the Outsider was actually Alfred who had been resurrected via radiation (which also created his villainous alter ego).

12 The Chief

The Chief Doom Patrol DC

Niles Caulder is, or at least was the stalwart leader and founder of the Doom Patrol. For years, he led the World’s Strangest Heroes and made the Patrol home to many offbeat metahumans. However, the Chief’s sins came to light when he revealed to his team that he was responsible for the accidents that created longtime members Robotman, Negative Man and Elasti-Woman. Caulder has since tried to get back into the team’s good graces but has yet to do so.

11 Hawk

Hawk Kills Himself DC

Hank Hall has always had a bad attitude, but no one saw his surprising switch to villainy coming. In Armageddon 2001, a terrifying villain named Monarch travels back in time and kills Hawk’s partner, Dove, Hawk snaps and kills Monarch only to discover that the villain was an older version of Hank. Hank snapped and donned the armor becoming Monarch, and later the equally villainous Extant during Zero Hour: Crisis in Time.

10 Supergirl

Red Lantern Supergirl

Supergirl might be the cousin of Superman, but she’s had a tougher go at adapting to Earth than he ever did. In the New 52, Kara dealt with a lot of rage issues over her home and people being eradicated. Her anger eventually earned her membership into the Red Lantern Corps, the Green Lanterns’ powerful and destructive enemies. It was temporary, but the Power Ring made Supergirl one of the strongest and most dangerous beings in the DCU.

9 Maxwell Lord

Maxwell Lord smiles and looks smug in DC comics.

It might be a stretch to call Maxwell Lord a ‘hero’, but he did serve as the benefactor for Justice League International. However, in the years after his time with the beloved incarnation, Max pivoted hard. He took control of the Brother Eye satellite to try and eliminate DC’s superhumans. He also used his mind control powers to turn Superman into his personal lackey, until Wonder Woman snapped Lord’s neck, ending his reign of terror.

8 Batman

The Batman Who Laughs chuckles as the world comes to an end.

While the Batman of the Prime Earth is incorruptible, his variants in the Dark Multiverse aren’t so lucky. There are numerous villainous copies of Bruce Wayne, each reflecting a personal fear of his. Of all the Dark Knights, none are as chilling as the Batman Who Laughs, a demented Batman who had been poisoned by the Joker after killing him. The sinister doppelganger was smart, unhinged, and ready to take down the entire omniverse with him.

7 Flash

Out of Time Flash DC Comics

The Flash is seen by many as the heart of the Justice League. But one dark future showed that Barry Allen wasn’t as above it all as everyone thinks. After losing Wallace West in an accident, a future Flash decided to ‘correct’ the mistakes of the past and improve the future. Flash journeyed backward in time and killed criminals he felt the system didn’t properly punish, a shocking thing to see from the law-abiding hero.

6 Red Hood

Red Hood Jason Todd DC

Jason Todd struggled when he got the chance to become the next Robin, and unfortunately, his career came to an end when he was murdered by the Joker. But when fate saw him resurrected, Jason decided to do things his way. Donning the mantle of Red Hood, Jason began terrorizing the criminals of Gotham, determined to replace Batman. Though Jason eventually came back to the Bat-Family, he spent quite a bit of time antagonizing them.

5 Mary Marvel

Evil Mary Marvel DC

Mary Marvel is usually the wisest member of the Shazam Family. But she made a really short-sighted decision when her powers went away after her brother Billy died. Desperate to regain her abilities, she was gifted powers by Black Adam. However, this new power corrupted Mary and turned her against her allies and allowed her to be manipulated by terrifying villains such as Darkseid. It was a brief, but extremely dark period in the hero’s life.

4 Superman

Injustice Superman with Arms Crossed

Fans might think there’s nothing that could turn the Big Blue Boy Scout evil, but Injustice shattered that illusion. The Injustice franchise has Joker manipulate Superman into killing a pregnant Lois Lane, an event that breaks the Man of Steel. Superman not only killed the Joker in retaliation, but he also started a worldwide regime to end crime once and for all, by any means necessary. Unfortunately, the war that followed damaged things worse than any villain ever could.

3 Terra

Terra Teen Titans

When it comes to traitors in comic books, none are as well-known as the Teen Titan Terra. Tara Markov joined the team, seemingly to be a hero. In actuality, she was working with the Titans’ nemesis, Deathstroke gathering information he’d need in order to destroy them. Terra betrayed her friends and nearly got them killed, earning her a contentious place in Titans and DC history.

2 Superboy-Prime

Superboy-Prime Dark Knights Metal 4 Variant DC Comics

The real tragedy of Superboy-Prime was that he was a fan of the DCU. He originally came from a world where the DCU only existed in comics before finding out he was the Superman of his universe. However, Superboy-Prime turned against his world when he saw how dark things had become. He even allied with the Sinestro Corps and tried killing an untold number of the heroes he once admired.

1 Green Lantern

Parallax Green Lantern DC Comics

Hal Jordan fell hard after Coast City was destroyed by Mongul and Cyborg Superman. The grief he experienced allowed him to be possessed by the fear entity Parallax, turning him into a villain of the same name. As Parallax, Hal slaughtered his allies in the Green Lantern Corps before destroying the organization altogether. Though Jordan was exonerated for his crimes, the murders he committed are a part of his past that he can never forget.

Though most heroes don’t stay villains for long, it’s always a tragedy seeing them become darker versions of themselves. These 14 DC Universe heroes and their brief fling with villainy no doubt serve as a terrifying reminder that no hero is above going rogue.

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